June 2023 | Articles

Radiology Myopia

The conclusion that the leadership of a radiology group is the direct cause for a failing practice and strained relationships is typically not well received. It is easier for the leadership to place the responsibility for a failing radiologist provided imaging services strategy on clinicians, the administration, the changing markets, changes in health care, governmental changes, radiologist availability or changes in reimbursement. However, placing the blame on these external factors forms the root cause of the primary failure. Synthesis Health Physician Services keeps its focus on the solid, foundational principles of delivering measurable quality and improved patient care.

Marketing Myopia

In a landmark article, Theodore Levitt discussed the concept of “marketing myopia.” This concept has now been extrapolated and applied to many other companies and industries. Hospital systems and hospital administrators, being in the business of medical care, also need to evaluate their view of the future and potential for growth or decline in radiologist provided imaging services within this framework.

With time, a business’s growth and strategy can stall or fail due to a failure of the leadership to understand the true and/or changing nature of its clients, products, or services. This is not a failure of leadership; it is a failure of the leadership. What this means is that even radiology groups with good leaders are not immune to the process of developing a fatal, myopic view of what their true focus should be.


Too often the physician leadership fails to take the broad view of the foundational role that radiologist provided imaging services fills, opting instead for a narrow, constricted view of product rather than service. Many believe the product of radiologist provided imaging services is the report or procedure. Not true! Imaging is in the service, not the product business. That service, working in conjunction with hospital administration, clinicians, and other healthcare practitioners, is to deliver accurate and appropriate patient care to injured or ill patients. In this paradigm radiologist provided imaging services are a part of a team and not in a vacuum. Radiologists deliver a service – performance of procedures or interpretation of images – to the patient and clinicians functioning as a part of the patient care team.

How radiologist provided imaging services are provided to patients and the patient care team determines whether they are a necessary member of that team – or simply available. In a myopic radiology and imaging culture, the leadership ceases to evaluate or look for cues in the environment that will lead to improved satisfaction by the patient care team. The outcome is that the group stops addressing the care team’s concerns and requirements. Instead, the group is lead towards a more introspective or insular view of radiology as a product and concentrates more on increased speed, production and efficiency.

This lack of vision leads to a failure of radiology and imaging to maintain its place as foundational to hospitals and hospital systems and specifically necessary to the patient care team. Radiologist provided imaging services become a commodity which can be delivered by any radiologist or potentially anyone, anywhere. By failing to focus on service and the patient care team, radiologist provided imaging services become a liability and cease to be a change agent for improved patient care, cost containment and a driver for value-added utilization management.

Self-deceiving cycle

A “self-deceiving cycle,” as discussed by Theodore Levitt, is one in which a group locks itself into a flawed course of action that appears to be the right choice but is actually the catalyst behind the group’s failure. In radiology, the flaw is the idea that efficiency and productivity are more important than quality, collegiality, and service. Once this flaw is embedded in the minds of the group leadership, the group becomes expendable and a change to another provider of radiology services is usually necessary.

The 3 questions

Synthesis Health Physician Services avoids this flaw by focusing on three basic questions. All of Synthesis Health Physician Services’ actions and goals result in improved patient care and demonstrate the service we provide cannot be obtained as efficiently or effectively from any other source.

The 3 questions are:

Is the course of action or goal designed to improve patient care and will it result in the clinician being better prepared to treat the patient?
Is the course of action or goal designed to answer a client (patient or clinician) concern or question and will it result in improved patient care?
Is the course of action or goal designed to improve the group’s visibility as a provider of world class radiology services and will it be seen by patients and clinicians as an improvement that will have a positive impact on patient care?

Creating a successful vision

Creating a successful vision of what radiologist provided imaging services do and who it serves is the key. Generating a firm foundation requires keeping an eye on the environment and the needs of our clients. Synthesis Health Physician Services’ leaders continually look for ways to keep in front of the changes that are on the horizon. By acting, and not reacting, we effectively steer our imaging departments and work with our partners through the good times and the tough times with equal confidence.

About the author: Dr. Timothy Myers, MD FACR is National Medical Director at Synthesis Health Physician Services. Dr. Myers has more than 20 years of experience in teleradiology and emergency radiology as a radiologist and executive.

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